Retro Commercials: Bob Uecker for Miller Lite

I don’t know about you, but commercials can often take me back to my formative years as quickly as any song or movie can. That is why we will continue this semi-regular feature on ’80s commercials that I consider particularly memorable, noteworthy, or forgotten. Television commercials were much more influential back when we were forced to watch them without the luxury to fast-forward through and/or stream shows with limited or no interruptions. This issue will cover the Miller Lite commercials featuring Bob Uecker from the ’80s.

I am a big fan of Bob Uecker. I have had the privilege of listening to him as the radio broadcaster for my hometown Milwaukee Brewers for my entire lifetime. He is outstanding at his main occupation, but his hilarious story-telling and self-deprecating humor have allowed him to entertain us in many other ways. Bob Uecker was a professional baseball player from 1962-1967 even winning a World Series as a member of the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals. He then went on to become the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1971 and has continued in that capacity to this day. Uecker received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 which is one of the highest honors an MLB broadcaster can receive.

As an entertainer, Uecker made over 100 guest-appearances with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and Johnny gave him the nickname “Mr. Baseball”. Later in the ’80s into the early ’90s, he starred in the sitcom Mr. Belvedere from 1985-1990 and was fantastic as “Harry Doyle” in the Major League films. Wrestling fans may remember Uecker from his work at WrestleMania III and WrestleMania IV which gained him induction into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Earlier in the ’80s, Uecker was featured in a series of very funny commercials for Miller Lite.

From 1973 to 1991, Miller Lite used the “Tastes Great, Less Filling” advertising campaign developed by the McCann-Erickson agency. In 1999, it was actually ranked by Advertising Age magazine as the 8th best advertising campaign of the entire 20th century. That is a very impressive distinction considering they were looking at 100 years worth of commercial campaigns. Miller Lite can owe a lot of that honor to the great work that Bob Uecker did during the ’80s. Many of those commercials ended with the tagline, “Lite Beer from Miller: Everything you’ve always wanted in a beer… And less.” Originally Uecker was part of the ensemble Miller Lite All-Stars, but eventually, he was featured by himself in a series of spots.

There are a few Bob Uecker commercials for Miller Lite that stand out above the others for me. One, in particular, stands above the rest and remains one of my personal favorite commercials of all time. This one began airing in 1984 and starts with Uecker taking his seat at a ballgame when an usher comes to tell him he is in the wrong seat. As he is being moved to his correct seat, Uecker delivers the iconic line, “I must be in the front row.” You can watch this commercial below…

You have to watch to the very end because he has another great line which Uecker screams from the nose-bleed seats, “He missed the tag!” I use both of those lines often when the circumstance warrants it. Uecker was featured in several other commercials that are also pretty great. Here is one from 1983 that I also remember well…

Here is another one from 1983 that also has a young John Goodman in it…

This one features former Dodgers and Cubs third baseman Ron Cey…

There were several more with Uecker that followed a similar theme, but those were a few of my favorites above. Later in the decade, Uecker, Rodney Dangerfield and several other Miller Lite All-Stars were in this memorable spot from 1986 called “The Case of the Missing Case”…

There you go, another trip down memory lane in the form of TV commercials. Those are such fun commercials, but you might not know that they almost didn’t happen at all. At that time, Pabst Brewing was big sponsor of the Milwaukee Brewers and Uecker had turned down Miller several times out of loyalty to a team sponsor. Eventually Brewers owner Bud Selig and Pabst both gave their blessing to allow Uecker to join the Miller Lite campaign. The rest is advertising history… great tasting, less filling history.

More Retro Commercial Features on TRN

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Old School Tim has an adoring devotion to the awesome '80s decade. He loves to relive and share that nostalgia on a regular basis. The Kickin' it Old School blog site has been retired, but you can still get daily doses of '80s goodness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else they let him.